Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago 

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Muntu welcomes a guest choreographer for its 35th-anniversary gala performance: Brazilian native Rosangela Silvestre. Artistic director Amaniyea Payne, who's known Silvestre for ten years, calls her work "pensive" and says her technique is "demanding of self--you need to be focused, centered, to know yourself." According to Payne, Silvestre's world premiere for Muntu, Guide, interweaves "breathing, form," and "how energy is directed" with "traditional spiritual movements of the orishas," deities associated with the natural world. In a YouTube video, Silvestre's dancing looked far more contained than the explosive West African forms that are Muntu's specialty, so this collaboration should be interesting. Payne has also created a new piece, In Search of Africa, inviting company members to contribute to it, and she's added dancing to the company's traditional "drum talk" portion of the performance. Kora player and Muntu "family member" Morikeba Kouyate, a Senegalese native now living in Florida, performs, and the evening includes a presentation of archival Muntu video and photography. Michelle Obama is the event's honorary chairperson. a Sat 7/14, 7 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777, $15-$50, $10 kids under 12, $175 for concert and gala celebration. --Laura Molzahn

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